|Subject: AFP: Belo calls on East Timorese to
register for UN-held ballot
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999 09:51:55 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
August 01, 1999 07:42 GMT
Dili Bishop calls on East Timorese to register for UN-held ballot JAKARTA, Aug 1
AFP Dili's Roman Catholic Bishop and Nobel laureate Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo on Sunday called on East Timorese to register for the August UN-held ballot there to determine the future of the territory, a report said.
"Only three days are left of the 20-day opportunity given by the United Nations to register to take part in the popular consultation, therefore, those citizens who have not yet registered should go to the registrations carrying the necessary documents," Belo said according to the Antara news agency.
His call was made to some 1,000 people who attended Sunday mass at the bishop's residence in the Lecidere neighbourhood of Dili, the capital of the troubled territory.
"As to whether you will choose or reject the offer of a broad autonomy, all of that will be left to the discretion of each individuals," Belo said.
Belo, who registered himself at a registration post near his residence on Saturday, said he will not force people to choose for any particular option.
The United Nations will hold the ballot on August 30, to determine whether the population in East Timor will accept Jakarta's offer for autonomy under Indonesia or reject it.
Jakarta has said it may let go the former Portuguese colony it annexed in 1976, if a majority in East Timor rejected the autonomy offer.
"Enough of our blood has trickled or flowed in the past. Now all bloody conflict should be halted and let us begin to welcome a new future, a new Timor," Belo said.
Belo also called for prayers for a peaceful ballot.
Security concerns, mostly blamed on armed pro-Indonesia militias, and logistics problems, have already forced the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to postpone the ballot twice.
The ballot, agreed between Indonesia and Portugal at the United Nations in May, was initially due for August 8. It was postponed to August 21 or 22 before finally the August 30 date was set.
A total of 200 UN registration centres have been set up across East Timor for the 20 day voters' registration to end on August 4.